It’s likely that we’ve all seen the meme around social media that says that in 2015, NONE of us guessed right in what we would be doing in 5 years. For both good and for bad, 2020 has left an impression on all of us. And as we head into the holiday season and end of the year, it’s time to look back at the SEO trends of the year, and share the keys to ending the year successfully for your business.
The 2020 Story of SEO
According to Google Trends, SEO took a very interesting journey in 2020. Within a few days of the start of the year, searches for SEO services skyrocketed. Following up on those resolutions, people started to look for ways to improve and optimize their business in the new year. Searches for both Search Engine Optimization and SEO reached its highest levels in the month of January. Before dropping to its lowest level of the year at the end of February.
In late February, the rhetoric and confusion over COVID-19 started to ramp up across the United States and the world. We started seeing cases spike globally. We weren’t sure what was going to happen to businesses or if the virus would go away. So that’s likely why we see that steep drop in searches during February.
Once the initial panic and shutdown started to ease, America slowly started to re-open their businesses. That’s when you start to see the rise again on the chart at the end of April. From the shutdown in early March through the end of April, we saw some queries regarding SEO. But it didn’t climb steadily until there was regular talk about re-opening the economy.
Throughout the beginning stages of the pandemic, SEO experts encouraged continuing SEO campaigns for success down the line. There were enormous amounts of uncertainty and the shutdown left many businesses in a difficult position. Many companies faced an uptick in cancellations or decrease in business. Many businesses cut what they could, and that included SEO or other digital marketing efforts. This likely lead to the extreme drop in searches through Google. However, search experts encouraged the continuation of these campaigns to lead to success down the road. Those companies that maintained their SEO efforts set themselves up for success later into 2020 because they maintained their online presence while others ended campaigns entirely.
Since early June, online traffic for search engine optimization and SEO held mostly steady, with a slight drop in the late summer. But overall as the economy recovered, so did the desire for businesses to improve their websites. And the searches to date are much higher than this time in 2019. Likely because more businesses want to improve traffic, customers, and revenue lost earlier in the year.
5 Secrets to End of Year Success
Now that you understand the search landscape, let’s get into the remainder of 2020 and how to start off 2021 stronger. Of course SEO takes time to get a website optimized and growing. That’s why we encouraged the continuation of optimization efforts through the pandemic to set businesses up for success once things stabilized.
But there are several steps you can take NOW to build that momentum into the holidays and well into 2021.
Start an SEO Campaign
Step one to setting yourself up for a big win in 2021, is just to start! If you haven’t already, start an SEO campaign now. It takes about six months to reach the first page of Google if you’re starting from scratch. But if you have a good website that is mobile friendly, some of the hard work is out of the way. Any SEO work is good for your website. And you could start seeing yourself rise in the rankings before you know it. You likely won’t reach the first page of Google before the end of the year even if you start now. But you’re on the right path to providing a better customer experience for those who visit your site and want to learn more about your business and the products and services you offer.
The point is that there’s never a better time than right now to start on SEO. If you’re ready to start bringing in new customers, then it’s time to start SEO for your website to bring in those leads and traffic looking for what only you can provide them.
Optimize Your Local Presence
Even though SEO might take some time, there’s things you can do right now in order to improve your online presence and start seeing immediate results. Local search focuses on the relevancy of location in search. It’s those kinds of searches where you look for “plumber near me” or “salt lake city coffee shop”. These searches are incredibly important for you to optimize for, and you can do it in conjunction with an SEO campaign.
Even though in 2020, we’re seeing a huge spike in online shopping, that doesn’t mean people right in your community don’t want to go out and find local treasures. In fact, we see more end of year local shoppers than at any other time of the year! So you need to make sure those local shoppers find you!
There’s several different methods to boosting your local presence. You do that through business listings. You do that through engaging on local apps like Nextdoor. Maybe some targeted advertising through your social media channels. You need to update the following in order to make sure you’re optimized for local search:
This is how people find your business locally. If they do one of those local searches, Google now pulls up local map results above the organic search results. You can compare business profiles near you to see what will work best in your own community. Claiming your GMB profile is totally free. It’s where you can add pictures of your business and your products. You can also gather and cultivate reviews. It’s crucial to add a description of what you do, your business hours, and have a good way for customers to contact you. Google My Business is likely the most important way you can improve your business for local search and immediately start attracting local customers.
Improve and increase reviews
Reviews are today’s word of mouth. And people often trust reviews far more than they trust their own neighbors or family members when it comes to a business. If you have bad reviews on your Google My Business profile, or other platforms like Yelp or Thumbtack, you will not bring in new customers. People want to see that others have a good experience with your business before they even consider visiting it themselves.
If you don’t have many reviews, or maybe could do some work to improve your reviews and customer experience, it’s just as simple as asking. Post signage around your store to encourage customers to leave reviews. Or you can implement a program or software that helps you to track your customers so you can reach out to them after they’ve had a good experience. Also ask for a review while the interaction is fresh in their mind. Don’t over complicate it. But make sure you start to cultivate those reviews, and then reply to them. This shows current and future customers that you’re engaged with what they have to say about your business.
Other business directories
Though Google My Business is one of the most popular, there’s dozens of other directories where you can get listed. People use all kinds of sites to get information, so you need to make sure you’re listed all over the web! Find directories specific to your industry or niche and make sure you’re listed there. Then start to look for other popular directories on the web. The good news is that most of these are free to sign up for! You can pay for extra add-ons or exposure. But it normally won’t cost you a thing to just get your business listed and start attracting new customers.
Track Your Metrics
Especially in 2020, we all need to make smart decisions. And the best way to do that is through good data. You need information in order to make the best decisions for your business and for your life. If you learn that something isn’t working as you anticipated, then pivot to another strategy. But it’s all about the information!
You can track your website and online data through Google Analytics. Through just a little bit of code on your website, you can see where people come to your site, how long they spend on it, what they read, what they click on, conversion points, and demographic data.
But just having the data isn’t enough. You need to look into it, understand it, and then apply it to your decision making. Maybe one piece of content gets a lot of traffic. Try to replicate it by posting similar articles or how-to’s regarding your industry. Or maybe you might notice that one product gets far more attention than anything else. You might want to consider carrying more of that product, or other similar items.
These are just a couple examples, but you can discover a wealth of information by tracking your metrics and data in order to make informed decisions. This is through your website, your social media channels, and more. Most social platforms have demographic and analytics built right into it. Learn what you can from this data and gear your messaging and marketing efforts to enhance what will work best for your business.
Connect with Your Base
Once you learn from your analytics, you’ll have a much better idea of your target audience and how to better attract them. Then do the work to better connect with them. Whether they’re a customer yet or not, you can target your messaging, target your promotions, essentially create entire marketing campaigns around better reaching your target demographic. Then help them see how you can solve their problems, and why you’re the best at what you do.
Because we’re heading in the holiday season, find fun ways to connect with holiday messaging. You can tailor campaigns to be nostalgic or fun-loving. This depends on the type of audience you want to attract. It’s the best time of year to bring in new customers, so get creative in order to reach them!
Identify Low Performing Pages and Update/Optimize them
Another great outcome of analyzing your analytics is learning what pages on your website just don’t bring in any traffic. Then, take the time to optimize or improve those pages. Often pages or old blogs just don’t get traffic because they’re outdated. But that doesn’t mean they should just be left alone. Update them with current information and re-release them. That’s a perfect way to bring in new traffic with a well-established piece of content that just might not get the attention it used to.
If you notice other pages on your website just don’t bring in the kind of traffic that you would like or hope, then it’s time to figure out why. Start testing your messaging. Introduce new keywords. Try new images with good alt/meta tags or videos that can bring in new traffic. Maybe this page just isn’t needed? Make sure you don’t have duplicate content on other pages. Or find ways to make new content that could start driving more traffic. While the search traffic might not come for a bit, you can see what works for people who are just searching your site for information. Always optimizing and always working on your website is crucial.
We don’t know what 2021 will bring. We do know that some of the craziness from this year will likely continue into the new year. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t plan now to set yourself up for success even in the midst of uncertainty. Start with these 5 steps as we wrap up 2020 to set yourself up for success now and into the new year.
Let Boostability help you grow your SEO into the new year! View our services and see how we can help your business grow!